Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit medical practice and medical research group known for innovative and effective treatment. The clinic is consistently ranked among the best in the world. Patients are referred to the Mayo Clinic (main campus in Rochester, Minn.) from across the U.S. and the world. Each year, more than one million patients from all 50 states and from more than 150 countries are seen within the Mayo Clinic system.
Audiologist Pamela Gjertson is one of the more than 3700 physicians/scientists employed by the Mayo Clinic. Dr. Gjertson recently set out on a mission trip to Mali, a country in northwest Africa, with a supply of Williams Sound Pocketalkers® in hand. She tells this story of her travels:
“What an absolutely amazing trip I had to Mali! As you probably know, it is one of the poorest countries in the world. The people there live with such simplicity, dignity, vibrancy and joy. John Updike in his book, The Coup, refers to this region as ‘misery interwoven with mercy’. I would add ‘despair interwoven with delight’.
“As for the practice of Audiology in Mali: It doesn’t exist. There are no audiologists and no educational programs for training them for the future. Diagnostic testing and hearing aid dispensing are performed by nurse’s aids who receive a short training course. There are no newborn-hearing screening programs, nor anyone trained in pediatric audiologic evaluations. No one performs vestibular evaluations.
“The otolaryngology staff at the Bamako University hospital in Bamako, Mali, (top) were thrilled to receive five Pocketalkers! They had never seen anything like this before and will be using them to communicate with the hundreds of hearing-impaired patients they see each week.
“While at the Fete du Chameux (Festival of the Camels) in Tessalit, Mali, I delivered a Pocketalker and a bag of Mayo-donated surgical supplies to a nurse from the local hospital (above). Getting to Tessalit involved a 20-hour bus ride (that included boxes of chickens in the aisle), and then a hot, bumpy 12-hour ride in a 4×4 Jeep accompanied by a military convoy, due to al-Qaeda threats to kidnap foreigners.
“The Pocketalker is such a great product for this sort of primitive setting because it uses batteries that are readily available; it is durable for this hot, dusty environment; and it is so easy to demonstrate (no French required)!”